Judge Reaffirms Ruling In Sunapee Email Case

Valley News Correspondent
Monday, November 13, 2017

Newport — For the second time, a Newport District Court judge has dismissed all charges against a Sunapee man who had been accused of tampering with an email that could have affected the outcome the 2016 Sunapee School Board election in which his wife won a seat.

The decision by Judge Gregory Michael reaffirms his ruling in August concerning the case involving Joseph Furlong. The attorney general’s office sought a reconsideration of the first ruling.

In his three-page decision issued Oct. 27, Michael was sharply critical of the investigation of Furlong by Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill, who asserted that Furlong had altered and then resent an email just before the election that portrayed one of his wife’s opponents in an unfavorable light.

Also charged with several similar misdemeanors was Adam Gaw of Manchester, who Michael noted acknowledged to Cahill that he had sent the email.

Michael took issue with Cahill’s failure to verify the existence of Gaw, who he said the state initially thought was a “straw man,” made up by Furlong, and based their initial charges on that conclusion. Gaw “voluntarily” went to police and “ultimately confessed to preparing the email,” the judge wrote.

Michael’s original ruling stated that Gaw took responsibility for altering the email soon after Furlong’s arrest.

The attorney general prosecuted the case and in July of this year dropped the charges against Furlong and filed three news ones, claiming he acted in concert with Gaw. However, Michael ruled that because the statute of limitations of one year under state law had expired for the misdemeanors, he dismissed the subsequent charges.

“As a result of the appearance of Mr. Gaw, which, quite frankly, should have been more thoroughly investigated before the initial charges were brought, the court finds these factual changes in the new complaints to be material and not insignificant,” Michael wrote.

“The state failed to properly investigate the facts surrounding these complaints and as a result, wishes the court to endorse its failure; this court will not do so.”

Heather Furlong, who was not charged in the case, resigned her School Board seat shortly after her husband’s arrest. Reached on Monday, the Furlongs declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

In August, three days after Michael dismissed the charges in his first ruling, Furlong sought a restraining order against Cahill, alleging a pattern of intimidating and threatening behavior during the course of the investigation. The Furlongs, acting as their own attorney, presented their case before a Superior Court Judge in September. The request was denied three days after the hearing.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com